PDMA Sharing Conference 2009

John Knapp, PDMA Alliance President

Pharmaceutical Commerce, Pharmaceutical Commerce - July/August 2009,

LOOKING AHEAD . . .

As we look forward to the 2009 PDMA Sharing Conference, there’s pride and satisfaction that comes with the knowledge that we will be celebrating our 20th anniversary in 2010. This September, we will be launching our two-decade milestone just as our stay at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach comes to a close.

JOHN KNAPP, PDMA ALLIANCE PRESIDENT, MANAGER, SAMPLE COMPLIANCE, PROCTER & GAMBLE PHARMA

It doesn’t take a crystal ball to anticipate the impact healthcare reform will have on our industry. The real possibility of more stringent sampling guidelines and more updates to regulations looms over us. We know there will be changes in the way we forge relationships with the healthcare professionals who distribute our samples. And we know the everyday demands to maintain fully-compliant sampling programs will continue to be at the top of the list of the companies we work for.

As pharmaceutical industry professionals, we are confronted by a mixed bag of expectations; some that may make us wary and others that represent a cause for optimism. It’s the latter road that we embark on together as PDMA Alliance members. We choose to come together to examine the current issues, while considering realistic forecasts of what may lie ahead. We choose to continue sharing and learning from the insights of industry and regulatory experts. We choose to work together to find the solutions that will allow us to be true to our mission of ensuring a safe and secure sample drug supply.

It’s a fact that we eagerly and happily come together each year for The PDMA Sharing Conference. The Alliance in turn provides us with the confidence that our collaborative effort is not limited to a three-day, information-packed assembly. Rather, being a member of The PDMA Alliance represents the joint, year-round ability to connect with colleagues on the industry happenings that influence and affect our day-to-day job responsibilities.

Together, we are ready to “set a course for compliance” at the 19th annual PDMA Sharing Conference this September. We hope you’ll join us for the Conference ... and beyond.

HOW WE GOT HERE . . .

From our earliest days as a group of pharmaceutical executives and support service companies, our goal has been to form effective partnerships, coming together with a focus on sample accountability and compliance. For almost 20 years, we’ve been growing in our understanding of the intent of The Prescription Drug Marketing Act (PDMA) and other federal and state legislation. Today, we are the foremost industry voice for people and policies dedicated to compliance in sample distribution.

I’m proud to say that I was part of that small assembly of sample compliance professionals in its earliest years. I can well remember one of our first conferences that brought fewer than 50 of us together. It was an all day meeting where we sat in one room, exchanging ideas and concerns, grateful for the opportunity to discuss how we were dealing with the then new PDMA law. We ended that conference with an informal cook-out where we shared a cooperative spirit that conference attendees—now Alliance members—continue to enjoy today.

The PDMA Sharing Conference began as a direct result of the enactment of PDMA. In those early days, we were involved in formulating the policies and procedures that were altering the way we conducted business. We were troubled by the fraudulent misuse of sample distribution and the lack of accountability. Simultaneously, we were challenged to implement the changes in policies that would prevent these transgressions. We were determined to garner a comprehensive understanding of the legislation to make sure that the companies that employed us would not be in violation. And as word of our small group began to grow, our conferences began to expand. From small annual meetings we evolved into a national conference, becoming the premier event for sample compliance and sample accountability professionals.

New member services

We’ve implemented several important measures to bring us to where we are today. The launch of The PDMA Alliance in 2004 was a powerful advancement in reaching the goal of our team of founders. It established us as a non-profit corporation, comprised of industry leaders who are dedicated to meeting the intent and mandate of PDMA. This transformation brought us beyond the annual conference, making us a year-round organization. Shortly after we became the Alliance we created a password-protected section on our website for Alliance members to use as a day-to-day resource. We continue to grow in our responsiveness to the dynamic changes in the pharmaceutical industry. Very recently, we enhanced our website so that it now features, among other additions, a new section for job opportunities, which has been very well accepted.

Our growth is directly related to our relevancy. An overview of the issues addressed in past general sessions and workshops are revealing in that each year, our line-up features presentations and discussions that are top of mind with sample compliance professionals. This year, Billy Tauzin, president of PhRMA, is our keynote speaker. His insights into PhRMA Code guidelines will provide clarity and spike discussion when it comes to redefining our relationships with health care professionals.

Something quite inspiring and reassuring happens when we come together every year. Renewing acquaintances with each other brings a dimension of openness and honesty that transforms the concept of networking into something more meaningful and in sync with that early idea we had of “sharing” challenges and solutions with each other. Time and time again, attendees tell us they leave the conference with renewed determination and energy. They return to their workplace knowing they are part of a unified and professional team with an industry voice that really makes a difference in securing a safe drug supply throughout our nation.